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Times of India
26 November 2008
By Rupali Mukherjee
New Delhi, India

Medicines Medicines
Now popular medicines like antibiotics, pain–killers and anti–allergics will be sold to consumers at half the market price
With efforts to finalise a draft pharma policy and price controls on essential medicines coming to a naught, the government has now devised a policy to offer essential drugs at discounted rates by setting up its own retail stores in every district across the country.

In this first–of–its–kind initiative, the government plans to set up 24x7 retail outlets in states starting with Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. Delhi is expected to have its retail store over the next few weeks.

Sources said that unbranded versions of generic medicines (sold under the chemical name) including popular antibiotics, painkillers, cough and cold medication will be sold at these ‘Jan Aushadhi’ stores.

To start with, these stores are coming up in Ludhiana, Mohali, Jallandhar and Bhatinda and will later spread to the other parts of the country.

After debating various modalities of providing medicines at affordable rates for ‘Aam Admi’, the government finally decided to go–ahead with the plan of setting up these stores for providing generic (unbranded) medicines in every district.

“Our objective is to provide popular and essential medicines at prices even less than 50% of the maximum retail price (MRP)”, official sources told TOI.

So for instance, anti–allergic drug Cetirizine which is sold at Rs. 37 per strip in the market, will be offered at Rs. 2.50, a Paracetamol strip, prescribed for fever, will be sold at Rs. 2.30 at the government store and anti–biotic Ciprofloxacin–500 mg strip at Rs. 29 which has a MRP of Rs. 155.

State governments, along with certain non–profit organisations like Red Cross will be roped in for managing these stores. Under the scheme, the government will source unbranded generics (medicines sold under the chemical name) from drug public sector undertakings like IDPL, HAL, RDPL and Bengal Chemicals. It is also in talks with the pharma industry for sourcing medicines.

The small–scale drug industry has also offered to sell medicines to the government at hugely–discounted rates, even as low as 35% of MRP. The government will also provide retail space to the organisation to operate the outlet.

The government has in consultation with leading hospitals including Ram Manohar Lohia, AIIMS and Maulana Azad Medical College prepared a national list of essential medicines for stocking up at the stores. It is also planning to include IV fluids, vaccines and injectables at these stores.